The FA Cup is a competition that’s apparently lost its glow in recent years, one that’s being treated with disinterest by some top clubs as they put all their energies into finishing in the top four of the Premier League, looking to pull all the riches they can from European competitions and some struggling top flighters desperate to not disturb their survival hopes.
So it was a welcome relief to see the cup back in the capable hands of the BBC this season with Adrian Chiles and co left to watch from the sidelines to see just how you handle and promote the greatest cup competition in Europe.
To me, the FA Cup hasn’t lost any of its glitz…the early rounds in particular are fantastic at giving small clubs their moment or moments in the spotlight.
It’s not just about the games themselves, though, this year with the Beeb putting on a very good show of the First Round draw. I wasn’t completely on board with the Monday evening slot at first but placed at 7pm and including a live audience and managers involved in the draw was a master stroke.
Not only did a prime time audience come within reach but also a competition was given its rightful and important billing. If this trend continues and the future draws are also given their own slot I can’t wait to see Arsene Wenger live in the studio complaining that he didn’t see it, Louis Van Gaal calling Phil Neville ‘stupid’ or Jose Mourinho being made to stand next to the grass cutter of Ebbsfleet United. An improvement indeed on Chiles, Andy Townsend and Clarke Carlisle rocking up on a Sunday and pointing out that Bromley’s left back earns as much as Diego Costa’s first three breaths of the morning and smugly laughing at crooked corner flags that look like Deirdre from Coronation Street.
A lot of the public’s view of the cup is down to how it’s communicated to them and ITV have once again dropped the ball over the last few years. All it took was one draw for half an hour on a Monday night to convince us that the magic is waiting to be captured once again.
As for the Cobblers, well we’re paired with League One Rochdale this time out and play the role of underdog. Any sort of win won’t cause many stirs but we can at least be safe in the knowledge that the big stories of the weekend will be covered with professionalism and with the understanding of the glorious history of the competition.
Can the BBC save it? You wouldn’t bet against it.